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    The buildings are cooled by a specially developed natural cooling system through the walls, ceilings and roof structures (Secondary school with passive ventilation system, Gando, Burkina Faso).

The secondary school in Gando is a lighthouse project providing an outstanding contribution to the dominant issues on the country’s path to a sustainable future. The jury was unanimously impressed by the school’s beauty and its innovative architectural concept, which combines both modern and vernacular construction methods, as well as by its social and educational impact. Locally-sourced clay is mixed with aggregates and cement to cast walls on-site based on a two-piece formwork.

Last updated: October 12, 2012 Global Holcim Awards

The school also shows how a low-tech, energy saving and low-cost climatic concept can be used in extremely hot weather conditions. Technical solutions including passive ventilation, underground cooling, and automatic irrigation are integrated into the architectural solution. Reforestation, greenery, stack-effect air currents, and double-skin roofs and façades are other important sustainable components of the clay building. To fight against the ongoing expansion of the desert and to prevent the dehydration of the ground, rainwater is captured and centrally stored for irrigating the newly-planted trees in the area. From a materials and technology perspective, the secondary school in Gando will set an example for new sustainable construction – not only in the arid Sahel, but in all developing regions around the world.

The project provides more than just a testament to the potential of locally-sourced materials. Built by the community, the construction process is considered to be an important part of the transfer of knowledge, whereby locals acquire new building skills that can be reused and taught. This common effort and on-site training of the residents in the vicinity of the new school substantially increases social cohesion among families and self-reliance of the whole community.

The jury commended this project due to these multifaceted and future-oriented elements. The comprehensive approach to this school project is an exemplarily application of sustainable construction according to the five “target issues” for sustainable construction of the Holcim Foundation, and will have an undoubtedly strong impact on similar endeavors in developing regions.